When Texas offered Tyler Luatua in early June, the standout tight end was taken aback. Luatua, one of the nation's best at his position, had not heard much from the UT coaches before the offer, but the Longhorns made an immediate impression once they officially entered the race.
"That was a pretty big surprise. My coach had been telling me that they don't recruit a lot of California kids," Luatua said. "I've been thinking about them in the recruiting process and I was really excited about them when I got the offer. They have a good offense, a good team and a good program."
The 6-4, 230-pound Luatua holds offers from more than 30 of the nation's top programs and though he's keeping an open mind at this point, he said a visit to Texas is something he's considering.
"I think they're one of my favorite schools right now. I've been thinking about making an official visit to there," Luatua said.
Luatua said he has some familiarity with the Texas program after watching the Longhorns play in back-to-back Rose Bowls in 2004 and 2005. Texas won both games in dramatic fashion, Luatua has kept an eye on UT ever since and he said he thinks he could fit in well with the current Longhorn program.
"What stands out is just the great players that are coming out of the school and the way they run their offense," Luatua said. "Their coaches have been telling me about the way they run their offense."
Texas first saw Luatua during a spring evaluation period visit to La Mirada. Not too long after that visit, Texas put in a call to La Mirada head coach Mike Moschetti and asked him to have Luatua call them. Luatua talked to Mack Brown on June 5 and picked up the offer from Texas.
Currently, Luatua has visits locked in for Alabama and Notre Dame. Along with a possible stop in Austin, Luatua is also considering a visit to Ohio State. He doesn't have a list of favorites and said he won't make a decision any time soon.
"I think I'd like to make my decision after I take all of my official visits," Luatua said.
With Texas' available scholarship numbers suddenly shrinking (UT has 19 commitments, tied with Baylor for the most in the country), it remains to be seen just how Luatua might figure into UT's long-term recruiting plans. When Texas offered, the coaches asked Luatua to call them about once per week to build a relationship.
Luatua's recruitment is still open, but what is know is that whichever school gets him will be getting a tremendous talent.
"What makes him so special, we're not a spread offense, we're more of a West Coast offense. We do move him around, but he can play wide receiver, H-back, tight end. He's so special because he's physical in the run game and he's so athletic in the passing game," said Moschetti. "It's hard to find a combination of the two.
"He can play in the spread and run by you. Or he can play with his hand on the ground. He's a true tight end. You could put him at receiver, H-back, fullback. He could even be an outstanding outside linebacker."